JAPAN TO BUILD OIL REFINERY IN GEORGIA. Japan's Itochu Corporation will sign a $300 million contract in Tbilisi later this month to build an oil refinery at the Black Sea port of Supsa, Interfax reported on 10 January, quoting Georgian International Oil Company President Giorgi Chanturia. The refinery will be located close to the terminal of the Baku-Supsa export pipeline, which is currently under construction, and will have an annual capacity of 3 million metric tons. It will produce fuel oil for electric power stations, diesel fuel, gasoline, and petrochemicals for both domestic consumption and export to Ukraine and Turkey. Itochu signed a memorandum of understanding with Georgia in September 1997, which covers investment in and modernization of hydro-electric power stations in Georgia. LF

UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE LAGS. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoitenko said on 9 January that Ukraine's GDP had fallen by approximately 4 percent in 1997, an improvement from the 10 percent decline in 1996 but one that still leaves Ukraine near the bottom of post-communist countries in terms of economic growth, Interfax reported. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Ukraine's economic performance in 1997 put that country in 23rd place among the 25 former communist countries the EBRD monitors. Only Turkmenistan and Albania performed worse. PG